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Home / Science / Musk blames SpaceX’s latest starship explosion for Raptor engine leak

Musk blames SpaceX’s latest starship explosion for Raptor engine leak



CEO Elon Musk said that SpaceX’s latest spacecraft test flight ended with an air explosion because one of the rocket’s three “Raptor” engines began to show a “small” leak.

As promised, the new information provides some insight into the reasons for the premature demise of the Starship SN11 and the challenges posed by the repeated development of systems as complex as the fully reusable Saturn V-class launch vehicle. On March 30, after a delay of about one week, Starship SN11 lifted off during SpaceX’s fourth high-altitude launch and landing test, and was almost completely covered by a thick cloud of fog.

Despite the bad weather, which almost prevented the launch view beyond the starship’s built-in camera, the performance of the rocket was as good as its three predecessors, reaching the planned maximum point of 1

0 kilometers (6.2 miles), and then free fall, first back To the earth. However, at T+5:49, things went wrong.

At that time, Starship tried to ignite its three Raptor engines and turn them into a tail landing configuration. At this time, two of them will be shut down and the healthiest of the three engines will try to make a soft landing. There was an immediate problem, the telemetry, real-time video and countdown clock were all frozen, one of which was a partially ignited Raptor engine.

The engine on the left here seems to be the culprit of the leak. (SpaceX)

It’s worth noting that, as shown in the picture at the top of this article, ” [methane] Musk accused that less than 30 seconds after the spacecraft lifted off, there was a SN11 failure on the Raptor SN52, which left plenty of time for high-pressure firepower to severely damage the failed engine and its neighbors. The SpaceX CEO said that the resulting fire “exploded part of the [the] Avionics “controls one or all three Raptors,” leading to [a] “Hard start”, which damages or destroys one or all engines while attempting to land burns.

Based on the analysis of unofficial video taken by cameras near the starship launch site, it is believed that the SN11 explosion may not have been triggered by its Flight Termination System (FTS)-but because of the violence of the Raptor, the explosive “hard start”. In the end, it is unclear whether SpaceX itself can paint a true and clear picture of what happened in SN11, but Musk said that the suspicious Raptor leak was “under resolution.” [six] Sunday way. Musk hinted that the upgraded Raptor engine may hint at its debut on the Starship SN15, which has completely or partially solved the root cause of the SN11 engine leak and hard start.

Either way, SN15 is expected to be put on the launch pad earlier this week (a few days after the explosion of SN11). SpaceX does not need to wait a long time to test any repair functions it implements, because the upgraded The vehicle can conduct a static fire test and self-test to launch its debut.




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